The Famine Irish in Glasgow (34:58) features Professor Sir Tom Devine, the leading historian on the Irish in Scotland. He reflects on the impact and legacy of the Famine Irish migration to Glasgow in 1847 as well as his own grandparents’ story of relocation from Ulster to Scotland in the later nineteenth century. The film also explores how Celtic Football Club was established to help alleviate the poverty of Famine Irish emigrants and their descendants.
In William Wells Brown: Black Abolitionist in Famine Ireland (30:33), Professor Christine Kinealy (Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University, African American Irish Diaspora Network) explores Brown’s little known visit to Dublin in August 1849. As a “self-emancipated slave”, he delivered an Abolitionist lecture only days after Queen Victoria – later denigrated as the “Famine Queen” – had embarked on her own tour of the hunger stricken country. Lenwood “Leni” Sloan (African American Irish Diaspora Network) reprises Wells Brown’s most evocative utterances while he was in Ireland and afterwards. Although he was only in Ireland for a relatively short period, William Wells Brown found his visit — like Frederick Douglass before him — foundational and transformative for his development as an Abolitionist and activist abroad.
Great Famine Voices Hamilton, Ontario (35:49) shares stories from the city’s descendants of Famine emigrants and members of the Irish Canadian Club of Hamilton near the location of one of Canada’s forgotten Irish burial grounds in Burlington Heights. They offer moving accounts of the growth of Hamilton’s Irish community from the tragic year of 1847 and the establishment of its close-knit Irish Canadian Club. The film is a National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Irish Heritage Trust and Canada Ireland Foundation co-production.
In Tracing Strokestown Famine Emigrants on the Welland Canal (33:58), Professor Mark McGowan from the University of Toronto follows in the footsteps of some of the 1,490 assisted migrants from the Strokestown Park estate (now home of the National Famine Museum) in 1847 who resettled in Canada’s Niagara region to find work on the Welland Canal. He uses newly discovered correspondence from the Strokestown Park Famine Archive between the landlord Major Denis Mahon and his agent John Ross Mahon to explain how the emigration scheme was planned. He also suggests that the horrific fate of former tenants who crossed the Atlantic on board coffin ships such as the Virginius and Naomi — where almost half of them perished — was less attributable to the landlord than previously thought, though he was assassinated shortly thereafter in retribution. In tracing their fate, the film brings to life the tragic and uplifting stories of Strokestown’s Famine emigrants who fled Ireland in 1847 to resettle on the Welland Canal.
The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park (6:32) is being launched by the Irish Heritage Trust to mark Ireland’s National Famine Commemoration Day, held in Strokestown Park on 15 May. The film provides a behind the scenes look at the National Famine Museum’s redevelopment where the story of Strokestown’s tragic past is brought to life through a captivating audio-visual exhibition.
The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park showcases the Museum’s new state-of-the-art facilities, interactive displays, and evocative archival records that offer invaluable insights into the parallel lives of the cottiers, tenants and landlords who experienced the Great Irish Famine. The film explores the Famine migration from Strokestown in 1847 as a painful legacy that defines an educational mission and outreach activities such as Great Famine Voices, the National Famine Way, and the Famine Summer School to reconnect with Irish Diaspora communities.
The National Famine Commemoration Day ceremony was broadcast live from Strokestown Park on the RTÉ News channel on Sunday 15 May at 12pm Irish time.
Great Famine Voices New York State (59:08) shares the stories of Irish-American New Yorkers and the descendants of Famine Emigrants from the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley in Utica, the Erie Canal Museum and Le Moyne College in Syracuse, and the Buffalo Irish Center. They recall how their ancestors left Ireland during the Great Hunger and afterwards to start new lives along the Erie Canal. The film is dedicated to Eileen Patricia McMahon Zogby in whose name an annual Irish lecture has been established at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Her discovery that her ancestors fell victim to the Great Hunger inspired her sense of social justice to learn lessons for today as part of her enduring legacy.
The Famine Irish in Chicago (42:02) features Professor Sean Farrell who examines some of the ways that Famine Irish emigrants helped build modern Chicago and Illinois in the 1840s and 1850. He explores how the Great Hunger shaped the outlook of prominent Irish-Americans, such as Mary Harris, or Mother Jones, to fight for fairness and greater social justice on the anniversary of her birth.